The politics of structural choice of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation: The theoretical foundations of the design of international environmental institutions

2005 2005

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Abstract (summary)

For over a century, states have been crafting international institutions to address a wide range of environmental problems but the effectiveness of these institutions has been limited. Theories of international relations have historically guided research on these institutions, but this scholarship has failed to provide adequate insights into why states have not been able to design effective institutions. This study utilizes an alternative approach, a theory of domestic politics, in particular the positive theory of public bureaucracies, to analyze the design of these institutions. The main thesis of this study is that the design of international environmental institutions reflects efforts of political actors to overcome problems of expertise, political uncertainty, and political compromise while they seek to achieve their policy goals within a particular political arena, rather than efforts by states to rationally pursue mutually beneficial joint gains or a desire of a powerful hegemon to cater to its own self-interest. To test this thesis, this study examines the institutional choices associated with the creation of the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). This research consists of a single case study that draws on multiple sources of qualitative and quantitative data collected from documentation, archival records, interviews, written surveys, and direct observation and analyzed using counterfactuals and process tracing for qualitative data and descriptive statistics for quantitative data. The findings of this research indicate that the positive theory of public bureaucracies has greater explanatory power for the institutional design of the CEC than rival theories, hegemonic stability and functionalist theories. Overall, this research suggests that this theory of domestic politics offers a potentially useful theoretical approach for understanding the institutional design of international institutions.

Indexing (details)

Political science;
International law;
International relations
0615: Political science
0616: International law
0616: International relations
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Commission for Environmental Cooperation; Domestic politics; Environmental politics; International institutions; Structural choice
The politics of structural choice of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation: The theoretical foundations of the design of international environmental institutions
Allen, Linda
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 66/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780542269097, 0542269090
Ostrom, Elinor
Indiana University
University location
United States -- Indiana
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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